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Gary Washburn, Boston Globe NBA/Celtics Reporter

JR Sports Brief / JR
The Truth Network Radio
February 20, 2024 8:46 pm

Gary Washburn, Boston Globe NBA/Celtics Reporter

JR Sports Brief / JR

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February 20, 2024 8:46 pm

Gary Washburn joined JR to discuss why players don't take the All-Star Game seriously and who the biggest threats to win the West are. 

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No doubt about it. I guess, first question, coming off of the All-Star break, which wasn't given high ratings, what are your thoughts on what we saw over the weekend? Well, I think there's obviously something that needs to be done to increase the excitement and the competitiveness of the All-Star game. I just think it's kind of a situation where this has been coming and happening for years now, and it just kind of finally came to a head the other night where basically the two teams just kind of had a pickup game where they just let each other, they scored on each other the whole night, and the East scored more points in the West, 211, and that's a record number of points, and it just was no defense, no real competitiveness, and it got boring, and I don't know what can be done besides encouraging the players, and I think it's got to come from the older players, the veteran players, because obviously coming from the commissioner didn't do anything. The commissioner had said all this season that there was going to be a more competitive All-Star game, that the players should be inspired to play harder, and they'd give the fans an entertainment, and it did not happen. You know, they played exactly how they played the last few years, so something's got to be done. I mean, I still think it's a fun weekend, but it's a lot going on.

You know, there's marketing and all the, you know, hanging out, the parties, the dinners, and these guys get tired, and I don't know if capping it off with a highly competitive game is ever going to work, because by Sunday these guys are ready to, you know, take a break, and it's hard. Gary Washburn from the Boston Globe is joining us. You know, Nolan Jalen Brown, and we saw him pull out the glove and what have you, and so was it really an emphasis that he doesn't have a left hand? Is that the deal with the Michael Jackson glove?

Well, he told us that it was a tribute to Michael Jackson, because Michael Jackson's from Gary, Indiana, and they're in Indianapolis, so I thought that was pretty unique. I thought he tried. I thought he did okay. You know, obviously he lost, and he should have lost to Mac McClung, but I just think that just says a lot about the league, that none of the veteran guys besides him want to participate, so what you have is you have two G-League players and a guy who has played four NBA games total competing the dunk contest against a veteran. None of these guys who can fly out of the gym and dunk reverse and duck all seven, go do 720s, and you know, well I don't know what's more than 720, a 1080s and all that, they don't want to participate, so this is what we're left to, and then the league and the players have to do something about that. They've got to get over trying, you know, the prospect of being embarrassed on social media, being a meme on TikTok or something, and they've got to do it, and so Jaylen Brown tried. He lost.

I know a lot of people were kind of, you know, ripping him on social media, but I give him credit for getting out there and being a current All-Star and trying to put some pizzazz in the dunk contest. Well, Gary, with your work, speaking of Brown covering the Celtics, we know that they're the favorites out of the East. Probably a good chance that they are going to go back to to a finals, depending on what takes place. What is it contingent upon?

Is it mostly health? Is it Porzingis? Is it too many threes? What's going on with the Celtics? Well, I think they're in line to basically get back to the finals the first time in two years. They just have to play the right way, and I think they've done that. I think they had a little kind of a mini slump if you want to call it in late January, early February, where they got blown out by the Clippers, and then they lost to the Lakers, really short-handed without A.D. and LeBron, and I think since then they've won six in a row, and they're trying to get back to that style. I think they like to take a lot of threes, obviously.

They lead the league in attempts, but they also think they like to pound the paint, use Porzingis, and get some easy baskets also. So I think it's just a matter of them playing the way they're supposed to play, playing strong defense, their top three in defense, top two in scoring, offensive efficiency, and keep it moving, but it's going to be a challenge. I mean, the East is filled with teams that might have, you know, Milwaukee's got its issues.

So does Philadelphia. New York's got to get healthy, but Cleveland's a team that's been hot, and the Celtics are always looking over their shoulder at the Miami Heat. You don't know what they're going to be capable of when the playoffs come around, because obviously, as you know, they made the finals last year as an A.C.

So there's a lot of challenges left for the Celtics to overcome, but I think they're capable. Gary Washburn is here with us, covers the NBA for the Boston Globe, the entire league. When you look at what's going on with the Milwaukee Bucks, and today J.J. Reddick took a blowtorch to Doc Rivers. What's the deal? Why is Doc being eviscerated the way that he has been, given that it's only been a few weeks?

Well, one, they're three and seven. Two, I think there was a perception that Doc was kind of, you know, waiting for Adrian Griffin to get fired. He wanted back into the coaching game, and he takes a job from a guy who was 30 and 13, and in his first NBA job, and here comes Doc kind of swooped in to save the day. And I also think that the days of Doc's effectiveness, you know, obviously we remember him coaching the Celtics in 2008 and having the, you know, great chemistry with Rondo and Ray Allen and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

That was 16 years ago. Current players, and some of you don't respond to him in particular as well as those guys did, and I think that there might be kind of a generational gap building. You know, Doc is, you know, he's a great guy and makes you feel like a million dollars. He's a wonderful coach to cover when I covered him, but I think the younger players are kind of not believing some of the things he says and going by what he says as much as the veteran players, the players he did 15 years ago. And I think he's got to figure out how to get through to Giannis, how to get through to some of the players that were literally maybe in grade school or middle school, junior high or high school when the Celtics were winning that championship, right?

They don't have vivid memories of that. So I just think it might be that Doc's going to have to maybe, if not change his style or adjust his style a little bit to get through to these players. And also Milwaukee is damn old. I mean, Giannis is 29, but Damon is 33, Jake Crowder is 33, Brooke Lopez 36, Chris Middleton's kind of a 33 and been injured the last few years. So this is not a young athletic spry Milwaukee team. This is a team that is old for NBA standards. Well, Gary, we know who the oldest guy in the league is.

Name is LeBron James. Los Angeles Lakers not making any moves. We know that they can win an in-season tournament. I don't know about them winning a championship. What do you think happens with the Lakers as this season moves on and then we move on into the off season where LeBron can pick up an option, he can do what he wants.

What do you think is going on there? I think that they're going to have to obviously now, I mean, the buyout market's kind of drying up and they already picked up Spencer Dinwiddie. They're going to try to make a run here with the current roster. Guys are going to have to step up.

They're going to try to see, hey, if we can stay healthy, get into that, maybe try to get that 60 to avoid the play in, but try to get in and then pull off, you know, a couple of upsets. Last year's team got to the Western Conference Finals, so it's possible, right? But now I think the West is a little stronger with the Clippers, Oklahoma City, Minnesota and Denver.

It's kind of the top four locked in. Then you got Phoenix, who's still really yet to get fully healthy, and you got a couple other teams in there. Dallas, after the trade deadline, made some moves. So it's going to be hard, but I think this summer they're going to go to LeBron and say, listen, opt in and we'll make sure we'll get you a number three. We'll get you a third superstar.

We're going to do whatever it takes to get that third guy in to make next year the year that we can win. And I just think that's probably what they've got to sell LeBron on because it just did not work out. They have more trade assets in the offseason, a couple of more first round picks that they can offer to a team and they're going to go after the Trae Young, Donovan Mitchell, or someone of that ilk who is an all-star caliber player who can come in and join them and help them win right away.

Gary Washburn here with us, the JR Sport Reshow on CBS Sports Radio. You mentioned the Nuggets. You talk about the Suns. The Nuggets, you can discuss their depth. The Suns, you can think about some of the injury history of their stars. Who do you think is best and well-equipped to potentially come out of the West?

That's a great question. You got to think Denver because of their experience. Obviously, they'll be defending champions and now kind of getting everything together. But I'm going to say Minnesota or Oklahoma City.

I'm just going to go green here. I think Oklahoma City's just got a bunch of young athletes. They can wear you down.

Obviously, experience could be an issue. Minnesota is a team that we've expected more from over the last maybe 10 years, right? Since Carl Anthony Towns was there and they got all these guys around him and you're thinking okay. They've never lived up to expectations that this might be the year. You could also say the Clippers. You kind of wonder if a team with James Hart running it, is something going to actually go wrong? Is James Hart going to show up in the playoffs and let them down?

That's a good question. I think I'm going to say the Timberwolves at this point. I just think that they picked up a couple of guys in the buyout market.

They made some deals. I think this team is fired up and motivated to make a deep run. Every now and then we have to have somebody that breaks through the glass ceiling. We've got to have a new team on top. Who's to say it's not the Wolves, Gary?

It's about time. Look out for Oklahoma City too. They could be a team to break through.

Let's see what happens with the young teams. Gary, thank you so much for the time. Where can people follow you and your work covering the entire NBA with the Boston Globe? G. Washburn Globe on X or Twitter, however you want to call it.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-20 22:32:57 / 2024-02-20 22:39:01 / 6

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